The concept of “way leading upon way” has always intrigued me. Robert Frost speaks of it in the poem “The Road Not Taken” everyone has heard recited during at least once at a high school graduation. In the poem, the speaker must decide which road to take, admitting that “knowing how way leads on to way,” he doubted he would ever have the opportunity to make that same choice again.
Contemplating that possibility can either make a person paralyzed and afraid to make any choice, or with a faith that God is the One guiding the way down the road can experience trust and a peacefulness about the future.
I distinctly remember standing in my living room six years ago after I had just received a call informing me I had lost the job I had enjoyed for the past year. Speaking aloud to myself, I said, “I wonder how all of this is going to work out.”
It took a couple of years, but it did. I had always wanted to be a freelance writer, but no matter how I tried to arrange that, it had never worked. After losing my job as a college English instructor that afternoon, I took the first job offered to me as a teacher at a military academy. I was so miserable that whole year, my family threatened to call and quit for me if I didn’t. So I quit and was without a job again. I got my sanity back, but that didn’t pay much.
I reluctantly wound up back as a newspaper reporter, a job I had left 10 years before because of the demanding, stressful hours. Reporters earn every cent of their meager pay and never even know if they are going to get Christmas Day off. For the next couple of years, I tried to figure out how to make the jump from fulltime to freelance writer, but it just wasn’t possible. There just wasn’t the amount of money I needed in the newspaper’s freelance budget and other avenues weren’t encouraging.
After three years, I took as job as an editor of a local magazine, hoping for fewer, easier hours in my work week. I was miserable there too. (OK, I admit it — I’ve never had much of a desire to work outside the home.) And guess what happened? By that the newspaper industry was suffering dreadfully as the nation slid into a recession and although the paper had no budget approval to hire me back full-time, there was still my unused salary sitting in the freelance budget and able to be paid to me as a freelancer.
Way had led upon way, and I have been able to work steadily as a freelance writer for the past two years.
The experiences during that time often reminded me of free pizza from Domino’s and past insight into the idea of “way leading upon way.” Let me explain …
When we moved into our home 20-some years ago with seven always-hungry children, Domino’s was advertising that if they couldn’t get your pizza delivered within 30 minutes, it was free. We lived at the end of a quarter-of-a-mile gravel road in a house that couldn’t be seen from the main road. No matter how explicit my directions to our house were and how often I said, “You can’t see our house from the road, but keep on coming,” the drivers always got lost, pizzas were always late, and they were free!
It was quite a delightful situation to be in … until after so many free pizzas I felt guilty and actually drew a map from Domino’s to our house and dropped it off at their store where they placed it in their notebook for the future. (They also ended that ad campaign soon after that, and I’ve always felt it was our fault.)
It was true — you couldn’t see our house from the road, but it was always there. In between our house and the road is a neighbor’s house on a hill. From that yard, you can see both the road and our house. In our lives, God stands on that metaphorical hill in the neighbor’s yard, sees both ends, and tells us to keep on coming to the end, even if we can’t see it. Sometimes we might veer off the road or take a wrong turn or the road might turn unexpectedly as “way leads upon way.” We might feel like we are lost and will never get to the end, but He who sees both the end and the beginning will guide us home.
Perhaps your life now seems hopeless and so far off track that an end seems unreachable. But perhaps you are just on a way leading upon another way that may lead upon another way until, having exercised and developed trust, you at the destination you have always sought.
As Solomon said, long before Robert Frost, “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart and lean not to thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6).
Way may ever lead upon way, but the Lord is the Way who will lead us down all those ways.
By the way, I went back to my job as a newspaper reporter, an extremely demanding and stressful job, one in which you are never even assured you will have Christmas Day off.